I will be upfront on this one: it was not my first choice. My kids wanted to watch this movie, and I complied (because that Mother of the Year award ain’t gonna earn itself through cookies and attendance of PTA meetings, you know). So I sat there, waiting to feel bored out of my skull and blah about the whole thing. Color me shocked, but I wasn’t. While it didn’t do as well at the box office as the first one in the series did, I actually wound up really enjoying it. Here are five reasons to watch Alice Through the Looking Glass this weekend.
#1 – It’s pretty
- Yes, I’m a simpleton.
- No, I don’t care.
I like films that are eye candy. There is no shame in that statement. Say what you will about anything produced by Tim Burton, but his films have a quality of whimsy and a shocking command of color that most filmmakers wish they could replicate. While heavy on special effects, some due credit goes to cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh, who also did the cinematography work on Aeon Flux. Was that last one a crappy movie? Yup, but damned if it wasn’t pretty too. Alice manages to hold that visually stunning quality with pleasing, swirling colors. Take a moment to appreciate that.
#2 – Mia Wasikowska
While everyone else is busy obsessing over various actresses that I don’t give a shit about (ahem, Natalie Portman, I think your name just got called), Wasikowska has been quietly and steadily working for a good decade in everything from horror (Stoker) to indie darlings (The Kids Are Alright, Only Lovers Left Alive, Maps to the Stars) to big-budget flicks (Alice in Wonderland, Crimson Peak). There’s a reason why she keeps getting work: she’s good. She’s likable and believable. We want her to win when she plays a part, and when her character experiences a profound moment, she seems sage-like yet humble. I like her a great deal, and this film showcases just why: she comes across as very human.
#3 – This is not a Johnny Depp movie
Time to address the elephant in the room. Johnny Depp is a mess right now. He went from being that awesome indie actor that marched to the beat of his own drummer to the complete mess that’s shit in the middle of the living room and is currently passed out on your couch. You can choose to believe Amber Heard’s accusations or not, but you can’t deny that the man has made some poor box office and personal choices that have only worked to further erode his public goodwill. This put a lot of people off from this film, plain and simple: no one wants to pay between eight and 12 dollars a head so that a drunk mess can buy another private island. That’s the harsh fucking truth. However, this film, while about Depp’s Hatter, isn’t structured as a Depp vehicle. If that was putting you off, know that this is far more Wasikowska’s film (and for that matter, Helena Bonham Carter’s and Sacha Baron Cohen’s).
#4 – There’s a nice message about families in there
Oh is this film a loaded gun when it comes to families. Specifically, expectations of the parental variety. Many of us have felt like we’re not living up to mom or dad’s hopes; some of us have had the crushing experience of explicitly hearing those words (which is never kind at any age). This film does that multiple times, with varying subjects: expected gender roles, the hope for carrying on the family profession, the thought that someone can’t effectively govern themselves and therefore can’t be trusted. On the flip side of this common experience, we also get to see the regret forged when someone mistreats a family member: the pain, the sorrow, the desire to make amends but not knowing how. All mixed in with the idea that time marches on regardless of how hard we’d like to go back and fix it. All food for thought.
#5 – Alan
Alan Rickman fulfilled his duties as the voice of Absalom the Butterfly prior to his death last year. Rickman’s death still hurts; he was one of the best, and we’re never going to get another one like him. Like I said before, sometimes, it’s not the death that hurts; it’s the fact that just as you’ve healed a bit, you get a reminder of what you’ve lost. You can equate that to death or breakups or any other traumatising transition. At this point, it’s bittersweet. I’m happy that he’s some child’s caterpillar that became a butterfly. That seems so fitting, and I think he would have been tickled.
This one is available for streaming on Netflix. I suggest you give it a go.